Jan S. Suchodolski, MedVet, DrVetMed, PhD, AGAF, DACVM
Studies on the canine and feline gastrointestinal
Recent advances in molecular methods have revealed that the
canine and feline gastrointestinal tract harbors a highly complex
microbial ecosystem, comprising several hundred different bacterial
genera. We are just beginning to understand how this microbiota
interacts with the host and thereby exhibiting an influence that
reaches beyond the gastrointestinal tract of dogs and cats.
It is estimated that the mammalian intestine harbors a total of
1010-1014 microbial cells, which is
approximately 10 times more than the number of host cells. It is,
therefore, obvious that this highly complex metagenome will play a
crucial role in host health and disease. Gut microbes are useful to
the host by acting as a defending barrier against transient
pathogens, they aid in digestion and help to harvest energy from
the diet, they provide nutrition for enterocytes, and play a very
important role in the development and regulation of the host immune
system. However, the intestinal microbiome can also have
detrimental influence of gastrointestinal health, as in the last
few years convincing evidence has been gathered associating
alterations in the composition of the intestinal microbiota with
chronic enteropathies in the dog and cat.
Our research is focused on gastrointestinal function
testing, gastrointestinal pathogens, and intestinal microbial
ecology with an emphasis on probiotics and prebiotics and how
intestinal pathogens lead to disturbances in the intestinal
microbiome of companion animals.
Using high throughput pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene,
metagenomic, and metabolomics approaches, we are characterizing the
gastrointestinal microbiome, metagenome, and metabolom of several
veterinary species (e.g., dogs, cats, frogs, parrots, horses, mice,
dolphins) in health and acute and chronic diarrhea. We are also
studying the effects of probiotic and prebiotic supplementation and
dietary interventions on the dog and cat metagenome and
Our recent studies have demonstrated alterations in the
microbiome and metabolome in the GI tract of dogs and cats with
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that resemble partially the
dysbiosis found in humans with IBD. We are evaluating various
treatment approaches (e.g., probiotics, diets) for correction of
this dysbiosis. Our results suggest that microbiome manipulations
via probiotics may be useful in the management of gastrointestinal
dogs and cats.
Figure 1: Heatmap illustrating the relative abundance
of predominant bacterial families in fecal samples of healthy dogs
and dogs with acute diarrhea based on 454-pyrosequencing.
Samples from healthy dogs (H; n=32), dogs with acute
non-hemorrhagic diarrhea (NHD; n=7), and dogs with acute
hemorrhagic diarrhea (AHD; n=13) are shown. The heatmap represents
the relative percentage of each family within each sample. The
results indicate decreases in predominant bacterial groups (i.e.,
Clostridiales, Ruminococcaceae) in dogs with diarrhea. These groups
are considered producers of important bacterial metabolites
(e.g., short-chain fatty acids). Source: Suchodolski JS et al.
The fecal microbiome in dogs with acute diarrhea and idiopathic
inflammatory bowel disease. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51907,
Rossi G, Pengo G, Caldin M, Piccionello AP, Steiner JM,
Cohen ND, Jergens AE, Suchodolski JS.
Comparison of microbiological, histological, and immunomodulatory
parameters in response to treatment with either combination therapy
with prednisone and metronidazole or probiotic VSL#3 strains in
dogs with IBD. PloS ONE 9(4): e94699, 2014
Minamoto Y, Otoni C, Steelman S, Steiner JM, Büyükleblebici O,
Steiner JM, Jergens AE, Suchodolski JS. Alterations
of the fecal microbiota and serum metabolite profiles in dogs
with idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD). Gut Microbes (in press)
Minamoto YM, Dhanani N, Markel ME, Steiner JM, Suchodolski JS.
Prevalence of Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium perfringens
enterotoxin and dysbiosis in fecal samples of dogs with
diarrhea. Vet Microbiol (DOI:
Honneffer JB, Minamoto Y, Suchodolski JS. Microbiota
alterations in acute and chronic gastrointestinal inflammation of
cats and dogs. World J Gastroenterol 28;20(44):
Bell ET, Suchodolski
JS, Fleeman LM, Isaiah A, Cook AK, Steiner JM, Mansfield CS.
Faecal microbiota of cats with insulin-treated diabetes
mellitus. PLOS ONE 9(10):e108729, 2014
Rodrigues Hoffman A, Patterson AP, Diesel A, Lawhon SD, Ly HC,
Stephenson CE, Mansell J, Steiner JM, Dowd SE, Olivry T, Suchodolski JS.
The Skin Microbiome in Healthy and Allergic Dogs. PLoS
ONE 9(1): e83197.
Bordin AI, Suchodolski
JS, Markel ME, Weaver KB, Steiner JM, Dowd SE, Pillai S,
Effects of administration of live or inactivated virulent
Rhodococcus equi and age on the fecal microbiome of
neonatal foals. PloS ONE Jun 13;8(6):e66640,
Markel ME, Garcia-Mazcorro JF, Unterer S, Heilmann RM, Dowd SE,
Kachroo P, Ivanov I, Minamoto Y, Dillman EM, Steiner JM, Cook AK,
The fecal microbiome in dogs with acute diarrhea and idiopathic
inflammatory bowel disease. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51907, 2012
Foster ML, Dowd SE, Stephenson C, Steiner JM, Suchodolski JS. Characterization
of the fungal microbiome (mycobiome) in fecal samples from
dogs. Vet Med Intern, article ID: 658373, 2013
Handl S, German AJ, Holden SE, Dowd SE, Steiner JM, Heilmann RM,
Grant RW, Swanson KS, Suchodolski JS.
Fecal microbiota in lean and obese dogs. FEMS Microbiol
Ecol doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12067
Dowd SE, Wilke V, Steiner JM, Jergens AE.
16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing reveals bacterial dysbiosis in the
duodenum of dogs with idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease.
PLoS ONE 7(6): e39333, 2012
Hart ML, Suchodolski
JS, Steiner JM, Webb CG. Open-label trial
of a multi-strain synbiotic in cats with chronic
diarrhea. J Fel Med Surg 14(4):240-245,
Mashoof S, Goodroe A, Du C, Jacobs N, Steiner JM, Eubanks JO,
Tizard IA, Suchodolski
JS, Criscitiello MF.
Ancient T-Independence of Mucosal IgX/A: Gut Microbiota Unaffected
by Larval Thymectomy in Xenopus laevis. Mucosal
Immunol (doi: 10.1038/mi.2012.78.)
Minamoto Y, Hooda S, Swanson KS, Suchodolski JS.
Feline gastrointestinal microbiota. Animal Health
Research Reviews 13(1):64-77, 2012
microbiota of dogs and cats - a bigger world than we thought.
Vet Clin North Am Sm Anim Pract 41(2):261-72, 2011
Swanson KS, Dowd SE, Suchodolski JS,
Middelbos IS, Vester BM, Barry KA, Nelson KE, Cann IO, White BA,
Fahey GC. Phylogenetic
and gene-centric metagenomics of the canine gastrointestinal
microbiome reveals similarities with human and mouse gut
metagenomes. ISME J 5(4):639-49, 2011
Handl S, Dowd SE, Garcia-Mazcorro JF, Steiner JM, Suchodolski JS.
Massive parallel 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing reveals highly
diverse fecal bacterial and fungal communities in healthy dogs and
cats. FEMS Microbiol Ecol 76(2):301-10, 2011
Microbes in gastrointestinal health of dogs and cats. J
Anim Science 89(5):1520-1530, 2011
Dowd SE, Westermarck E, Steiner JM, Spillmann T, Wolcott RD,
Harmoinen JA. The effect of
the macrolide antibiotic tylosin on microbial diversity in the
canine small intestine as demonstrated by massive parallel 16S rDNA
sequencing. BMC Microbiol 2009, 9:210
Camacho J, Steiner JM.
Analysis of bacterial diversity in the canine duodenum, jejunum,
ileum, and colon by comparative 16S rDNA analysis. FEMS
Microbiol Ecol 66(12):487-498, 2008
Xenoulis PG, Palculcit B, Allenspach K, Steiner JM, Van House A,
Molecular-phylogenetic characterization of microflora imbalances in
the small intestine of dogs with inflammatory bowel disease.
FEMS Microbiol Ecol 66(12):499-510, 2008
Ritchie LE, Steiner JM, Suchodolski
Assessment of microbial diversity along the feline intestinal tract
using 16S rRNA gene analysis. FEMS Microbiol Ecol
Morris EK, Allenspach K, Jergens AE, Harmoinen JA, Westermarck E,
Prevalence and identification of fungal DNA in the small intestine
of healthy dogs and dogs with chronic enteropathies. Vet
Microbiol 132(3-4):379-388, 2008
Jan S. Suchodolski graduated with a veterinary degree from the
University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria in 1997. After
working for several years in a small animal specialty clinic he
returned to academia and received his Dr. med. vet. degree from the
University of Vienna, Austria in recognition for his research on
potential diagnostic marker for canine gastric disease. In 2005 Dr.
Suchodolski received his PhD in Veterinary Microbiology from Texas
A&M University for his work on molecular markers for the
assessment of the intestinal microbiota. He is also board certified
in immunology by the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists
(ACVM). He currently serves as Clinical Associate Professor
and Associate Director of the GI Lab.
Diplomate ACVM (Immunology), American College of Veterinary
Ph.D. Veterinary Microbiology, Texas A&M University 2005
Dr.med.vet., Veterinary Sciences, Vetmeduni Vienna,
med. vet.. Veterinary Medicine, Vetmeduni Vienna,
Awards and Honors
June 2004 - Research Abstract Award (Best gastroenterology
abstract presentation by an "Investigator in training" at the 2004
ACVIM Forum, Minneapolis, Minn.), conferred by the Comparative
April 2005 - Texas A&M University Veterinary Auxiliary
Graduate Award, Honors Convocation, College of Veterinary
June 2005 - Research Abstract Award (Best gastroenterology
abstract presentation by an "Investigator in training" at the 2005
ACVIM Forum, Baltimore, Md.), conferred by the Comparative
2006 - Academic excellence award, Texas A&M Graduate
2010 - Best 2009 publication
in Small Animal Gastroenterology, conferred by the European Emesis Council
2015 - Fellow of the American
Gastroenterological Association (AGAF)
Secretary Treasurer, Comparative Gastroenterology
Academic Editor, PLOS
Frontiers in Microbial Symbioses
and other interesting articles:
Some of My Best Friends Are Germs
Probiotics in pets - are they worth it?
pets - Wall Street Journal
for your pets - CVM Pet Talk
people wanted for 'American Gut' project
Texas A&M collaborating on American Gut project
Council (EEC) Best Gastroenterology Publication
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